I enter a darkened house on a run-down street. There are youth wearing black concert t-shirts, combat boots, and Chuck Taylors seated around the undecorated room rapidly ingesting the contents of their foil packets. Well-worn copies of the Sacramento News & Review scatter the floor.
I exchange money and wait while the dealer goes into another room. He returns with my own foil packets, the contents of which I have waited for all day. I’m fidgeting back and forth, anxious to get my hands on the product.
My secret stash: Vietnamese Sandwich on Baguette. The lethally delicious contents include fried tofu, shredded cabbage and carrots, scallions, cucumber, basil, cilantro, red bell pepper, jalapenos, plum sauce, cilantro-garlic vegennaise, and chili-garlic sauce.
Some folks travel to the grocery store for dinner. I prefer more heightened adventures. I hunt in the sandwich underground. Much like my clandestine pie buying
, news of this Vietnamese baguette first came to me through a covert email forwarded from one foodie “in the know” to the next. It pays to know friends who eat well.
When the email arrived in my mailbox, it contained instructions to obtain this underground delight. There was an address, a name, and a narrow window of time in which to make the exchange.
Unlike the other anxious diners, I muster up some patience and drive my baguettes home to share with the hubby. With one crack of the foil seal, the heavy scent of chili-garlic sauce warms my nose. As I peel the foil further, chunks of ripe veggie topple out. This is a serious sandwich!
As I rush to the table to take a bite, I hesitate, grab an ice cold beer, and then settle in. My first bite sends a dance of flavor across the mouth. Crunchy bite of vegetables stand firm against a backdrop of soft, chewy baguette. There’s a burn of chili-garlic subdued by the clean and crisp combination of cilantro and mint. My lips burn. I take a swig of beer. Refreshed, I go in for another bite, and another, and before I realize it, my sandwich is gone. All that remains is the flame on my lips and that lustful longing when you’ve just tasted a good thing—and there’s nothing left.
Now, I sit anxiously at my computer, hitting the refresh key to my mailbox again and again. Surely, there must be word of another pick up. When it comes, I’ll be ready!